This is 40 – Part 2

This is the moment of truth. Well, it’s part 2 in what will probably be 4 moments of truth, but it’s time to take a look at this 40 week project. If you haven’t read part 1, you can find it here. It’s time for me to go back over my list and share what I actually accomplished, what I didn’t and why it even matters. I’ve copied my original list below. You’ll see a check mark next to the items that I completed. You’ll see some items crossed out and replaced by other items that I deemed more interesting or important. You’ll also find items that I just didn’t get to with either a justification for not doing it, an explanation that I actually didn’t and couldn’t be bothered to write about it or a plan for doing it in the near future. Find out how I fared below.

To Do BEFORE July 18, 2017

  1. Start a blog. Because writing gives me perspective. √
  2. Run a 10K √
  3. Learn to cook treasured family recipes. And share them with my family. √
  4. Put down my phone. I’m way too attached. It’s a problem.√ Note: I definitely spent some time on this one and I’ll be honest, I still need to work on this. Which is why it’s highlighted in red. 
  5. Put down the remote and read a book already! √ If I could give this half a check mark I would. I started and did not finish a few really great books. And I still watch too much TV. But I did listen to several great books on Audible. So I consider that a win.
  6. Camp in the winter. √
  7. Stop saying I’m sorry for no reason. I never actually wrote about this one but once it was on my list it became something I thought about a lot more. I was aware every time I apologized for something that needed no apology. This was also the case with #9 below. I consider this a half-win. I haven’t conquered my misplaced apologies or my propensity for interrupting, but I’m far more aware of it now.
  8. Stop interrupting. Sometimes I can’t stop myself.
  9. Share our Christmas stocking tradition with everyone. √
  10. Try yoga. I’ve been told I have the flexibility of an 80 year old woman. √ No thank you yoga. NO THANK YOU.
  11. Create Christmas memories with my family. √
  12. Don’t complain about anything for an entire week. Ha! I tried to do this twice and failed. And I don’t really care. It’s not like I’m a massive a-hole that complains constantly. Moving on!
  13. Start the 52 Hike Challenge. √ Well, I certainly did start this challenge, but I will most certainly not finish it. I was diagnosed with tendinitis in my foot and my doctor advised a break from running and hiking, my two favorite forms of exercise. It’s forced me to try new things in fitness and while I still work in a hike or run with some frequency, I try to do workouts that don’t cause burning pain in my foot because burning pain.
  14. Lose another 20 pounds. Stop driving myself crazy and change my focus to being healthy and strong over being skinny. √ You know this has been a huge focus of my personal goals probably because it’s such an ongoing battle for most women. I am happy to report that I am slowly working my way to total body acceptance and love. I’m not there yet but I’m owning it. I workout a lot and I workout hard. I’ve lost some more LB’s but I will probably never have that magazine image body. I mean, I know I won’t. It’s literally physically impossible for me to look like that. I have a massive abdominal scar, cellulite on my thighs and I’m like 6 inches taller than most women. But I’ve worked hard to look the way I do and I feel really good about that. And I will wear whatever the hell I want. 
  15. Do something I’ve been dreading. √ 
  16. Try Zumba. I’m not coordinated. This should be interesting. Try Orangetheory Fitness. √ See # 13 and #14. Orangetheory is MY JAM. I am stronger than I’ve ever been and every workout is a challenge. It feels like an accomplishment to leave that place drenched in sweat and panting. 
  17. Do something that makes my eyes roll. Sometimes being judge-y keeps me from doing awesome things. √
  18. Get a good night’s sleep. √ Still needs work, but what mom isn’t perpetually exhausted?
  19. Date my husband. √ I’m doing way better at this one! In large part due to our move to a new neighborhood. See #32.
  20. Be present and engaged with Little C. I’m going to need some rules for this one. √ You win some, you lose some. This is much like # 7 and # 8 where just having it on my list helps me be more aware because I have an intention. Some days I feel like super mom. Some days I feel like getting in my car and driving far away to a hotel and sleeping for 3 days because I can’t take another meltdown. I’m going to go ahead and assume that’s normal.
  21. Take Little C to the snow. √
  22. Cook more from my vast collection of cookbooks. Try a meal kit delivery service because ain’t nobody got time for that. √
  23. Make plans more often with my girlfriends. Find a mentor. I haven’t really found a mentor yet, but I have found an accountability buddy/bully. More on that in part 4 of this series!
  24. Go TV & non-essential phone use free for 1 week. FAIL! FAIL! FAIL! Needs to be revisited.
  25. Try meditation. At least once a day for a week. See what happens. √ Meh. 
  26. Take a leap of faith. √ Quit my job! (And then be forced out my house and assume fetal position).
  27. Visit a national park I haven’t been to before. √
  28. Update my wardrobe with a few quality pieces instead of throwing clearance items in my cart while on a Target run. Try Stitch Fix. √
  29. Go for a walk on the beach by myself. I have no idea why this one was so hard for me to make time for. It’s not like I don’t make time for myself, but I don’t make a lot of intentional, reflective time for myself. Must revisit.
  30. Don’t spend any money on non-essentials for an entire month. Stick to my budget. √ Getting booted out of your house is enough to make anyone dial it back on the Target runs.
  31. Start a babysitting swap. Because babysitters cost a lot of dollars. √ This might be the crowning achievement of my 40 Reasons list. And it wouldn’t have happened had we not been forced to move. We have some good friends who live just a few blocks from our new place. They also have boys and kids get along like GANGBUSTERS! Or LEGOBUSTERS! We have worked out a regular kid swapping situation that has changed our life. We can now go on dates and not feel like it has to be the BEST DATE EVER because who the hell knows when we will do this again. It’s pretty amazing. I hope we don’t find a way to ruin it.
  32. Learn Snapchat. I don’t even know why this was on my list. I don’t need to waste more time on social media. I already figured out how to do that with Insta Stories. Moving on.
  33. Join a book club. I was close on this one. My cousin invited me to hers. I bought the book. I read two chapters. Then I slapped myself because I was moving in a few days and really did not have the time. I’d like to revisit at some point, but I’m realizing I can’t do everything. At this point, I naturally choose family, fitness, friends, food, fun, fodka, ya know things that start with an f for my free time and reading does not start with an f.
  34. Do a mud run. I have not done this yet, but I’m planning on doing the Spartan Race in January. I’m terrified.
  35. Try stand-up paddle boarding. √ I’m going to check this off because my dear husband reserved spots for us at an REI paddleboarding class in a few weeks! Woohoo!
  36. Run a 5K at a 9 minute mile pace. This one I threw in the towel on. See #13. I’m good with it though. My priorities have shifted.
  37. Start the Six Pack of Peaks ChallengeThis one is on pause also because of #13. Although I really, really still want to do it. My goal is to summit Mount Whitney some day and these peaks would be a great training run. 
  38. Teach Little C to swim. √ Our little munchkin is slowly learning to swim on his own in our community pool. And now he refuses to wear a floatie because they are for babies. Sigh. He starts lessons soon, right after he turns 4 because anyone under 4 has to wear not 1, but 2 swim diapers. And since he won’t even wear a floatie because HE IS A BIG KID, you can imagine how jamming him into 2 swim diapers would go. I don’t need a round house kick to the face, thank you very much.
  39. Take a kickass trip for my 40th birthday. √ I’ll be blogging about my birthday trip down to the karaoke, hot chicken and whiskey in an upcoming post. 
  40. Create a community. √ This is the one I’m most proud of. I have definitely found a community who wants to get after their goals, support each other and cheer each other on, and for that, I thank you all so much. 

Since that was a monster list, I’m going to share how I feel about my list and what’s on my next list in part 3 of this series. And yes, there is a next list. Stay tuned!

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Week 20 – Try a meal kit delivery service because ain’t nobody got time for that.

This post was supposed to be about my cookbook collection. I have a fantastic cookbook collection and I can’t seem to stop acquiring more cookbooks. I love cookbooks with beautiful photography. I love cookbooks that preface a recipe with an essay that teaches you the history of the dish or an important technique. I love old cookbooks and the recipes that are a window into a kitchen and a cook from another lifetime. I love cookbooks that take me to faraway places and introduce to me to flavors I’ve never met.

I like to take a pile of them over to the couch, settle in, and get lost in a kitchen daydream. When a recipe catches my eye, I think about when I will cook it and who would enjoy it. I think about a party that I might have and what time of year it will be and what the table will look like.

Yes, this post was supposed to be about spending more time with my cookbooks. I cherish cookbook time. It’s not about practicality. It’s not about meal planning and grocery shopping and feeding a family. It’s about pleasure. It’s about the time in the kitchen spent creating something delicious and fully enjoying the process. It’s about the joy of feeding people something wonderful or unexpected or comforting. Yes, I love cookbook time and I just don’t get enough of it anymore.

Cooking has become another thing I have to do. I don’t have time to pore over cookbooks and glossy magazines, taking my time crafting menus for the week. I have a picky preschooler who constantly tells me that he will eat asparagus or fish or arugula “when he is a grown-up”. My time is limited. I have a budget. Cooking has become about efficiency and economy. Those aren’t necessarily bad things. Being able to make the most of the food we have is a skill to be sure. But I miss daydreaming about dinner parties and cooking exotic cuisine for appreciative eaters.

I’m two-thirds of the way into this project and while I’ve cracked a cookbook here and there, I haven’t done it with intention. I’m constantly searching for ways to make dinnertime easier and quicker. And I’m a trained cook. I went to culinary school. I’ve cooked professionally. You would think dinner would be a breeze. It’s not. It’s become a burden, which is a huge bummer.

I decided to give the meal kit delivery service a try. Coming around to the idea felt a lot like cheating. Or giving up. Or something in between. But I really needed to unburden myself of the time spent planning, shopping, and cooking. I figured it would save me at least a couple of hours each week meal planning and shopping as I’d just have to run to the store for the essentials. I decided to try out a few different meal kit services using their new customer promo offers and see if it worked for us. For each service we tried, we chose the option to get three meals that feed two adults with each delivery. We are a family of three and our munchkin will only eat some of the food we eat so we are almost always supplementing his plate with fruit, cheese or nuts. I suspect (and hope) we will only be able to get away with this for a little bit longer as he eats more and eats more adventurously.

Each service we tried offered a selection of 6 – 8 recipes to choose from to add to the box for the week. You can choose your delivery date during the week, although some of the services do not deliver on weekends or Mondays. All of the kits came with large recipe cards with straight forward instructions and images outlining how to prepare the dish. All of the services allow you to schedule a delivery and then skip as many weeks as you’d like before your next delivery. All of the services also have assorted options for vegetarians, larger families, and some even have wine pairings. Check out the services we tried and my thoughts on them below.

Lasagna Baked Fusilli with Kale and Mozzarella

Hello Fresh

I ended up getting two shipments from Hello Fresh a few weeks apart mainly because I forgot to skip my shipment. With all of the services, you have to manually edit your calendar so you don’t automatically receive a box. The recipes that we received were:

Juicy Lucy Burger with Tomato-Onion Jam and Arugula Salad

Lasagna-Baked Fusilli with Kale and Mozzarella

Toasted Rice and Shrimp Bowl with Bell Peppers and Corn

Chicken Under a Zucchini Blanket with Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans

Roasted Half-Chicken Dinner with Potato Wedges, Pearl Onions and Carrots

Panko Parm Poulet with Potatoes

The Hello Fresh recipes are the most approachable of the three meal kit services we tried. Meaning, if you are feeding someone who doesn’t like unfamiliar flavors, Hello Fresh will probably be in their comfort zone. This is not to say that the food wasn’t good because we enjoyed all of the meals that we received. It just isn’t super adventurous if that’s what you’re looking for.

My favorites were the Lasagna-Baked Fusili with Kale and Mozzarella (flavorful and satisfying and it made way more than 2 portions), the Toasted Rice and Shrimp Bowl (it reminded me that toasting rice is a super easy extra step that yields deep, delicious flavor), and the Chicken Under a Zucchini Blanket (it was a great way to make a boring chicken breast really tasty).

I like the way Hello Fresh packages their food the best of all three services. All of the ingredients for the dish EXCEPT the protein, come in a neat little box. The protein is kept in a bag between ice packs at the bottom of the box. All of the meal kit deliveries arrive with the protein in the bottom of the box in between ice. Don’t be like my husband and unpack the top part of the box and neglect to look under the ice and throw the chicken, shrimp and beef straight into the garbage on trash day. Don’t. Do. It.

I liked that all I had to do is decide which recipe card picture I liked best and then take the box out of the fridge along with it’s accompanying protein. (Or run to the store to replace the protein that went in the trash). The prep work is relatively easy but the times are all a lie. This isn’t just for Hello Fresh. Across the board, I found times to be longer than the ones listed with very few exceptions. I’m no slouch in the kitchen but don’t try to tell me that the average home cook can wash all the produce, peel and cut potatoes, trim green beans, grate zucchini and the squeeze the hell out of it until it’s dry, and pound out some chicken with a mallet in 10 minutes. I found the total time that the recipe listed to usually be about 50% longer. So a 30 minute recipe usually took 45 minutes. I have no issue with spending 45 minutes cooking. I think that recipe producers know that people are turned off by anything that seems like too much work so they just pretend it doesn’t take as long as it actually will.

With all that said, it’s so nice to cook with all the ingredients assembled in one spot and just follow directions without thinking too hard. I will probably order from Hello Fresh again when I need to feed pickier types because there’s nothing scary in these boxes.

Chicken Meatballs & Fregola Sarda

Blue Apron

We also received two separate shipments of Blue Apron because I neglected to log on and skip a week. It turned out to be great though because my mom was visiting and it was super easy to just look through the cards and either one of us could cook the meal. We cooked the following recipes:

Spanish-Style Potato & Chickpea Stew with Swiss Chard & Aioli

Spaghetti Bolognese with Butter Salad & Creamy Italian Dressing

Green Garlic Pesto Pasta with Butter Lettuce Salad & Creamy Lemon Dressing

Chicken Meatballs & Fregola Sarda with Kale & Sicilian Tomato Sauce

Spice-Rubbed Pork with Sweet Red Onions & Black Beans

Za’atar-Spiced Chicken with Pink Lemon Pan Sauce & Pearl Couscous

Blue Apron had my favorite dish of them all in the Chicken Meatballs & Fregola Sarda. It was seriously so delicious – I will definitely be making it again. The great thing with the recipe cards is that if you fall in love with something, you can recreate it again on your own. I also loved the Potato & Chickpea Stew which made way more than two portions so we made a breakfast hash out of it a few days later. The Za’atar Spiced Chicken was also tasty with really great texture and flavor. The pastas were fine, but nothing super special. The recipes from Blue Apron are more in line with what I like to cook and a little more adventurous than Hello Fresh. I’ll definitely be ordering from Blue Apron again. One thing I didn’t love was the way the food is packaged. All of the food comes in the box but it isn’t sorted by meal save for a small baggie of “knick-knacks” for each recipe. I like not having to gather up the ingredients for the meal so this was a minor inconvenience.

Spicy Beef and Leeks with Udon Noodles

Marley Spoon

Our Marley Spoon delivery had three recipes that were all home runs in my book and they included:

Croque Monsieur Panzanella with Tangy Greens

Spicy Beef and Leeks with Udon Noodles

Harissa Chicken Sandwiches with Carrot Chips

The packaging was similar to Hello Fresh where everything you need is in one bag, which I liked. The recipes all had fantastic flavor and were truly satisfying. I picked up a few little tricks and techniques from the recipes too that I will use again. The gruyere croutons in the panzanella will be a regular addition to my salads and the carrot chips were so addictive and tasty, I will definitely be making them again. I already have my next Marley Spoon delivery scheduled.

I’m planning to try a few other services like Sun Basket and Purple Carrot and I will report back. In the meantime, if you want to try out any of the above, shoot me a message and I will send you one of my invitations for a free box. If you have a meal kit service you love, please share it with me!

I’m not replacing my cherished cookbook time, but it’s been a breath of fresh air to not have to think too much about dinner and to not feel like I’m making the same things over and over again. It actually gives me a little more time to daydream about special Sunday dinners and elegant desserts. It may even free me up to do more of the cooking that I love and that’s a win in my book.

 

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The 3rd Trimester List

 

It’s the Fiiiinaaaaallll Countdown! I’m already into the final trimester of this 40-week project to gestate an adult woman. As a reminder, I am not pregnant, I just like really confusing analogies.

Confession time. I’ve fallen a scooch behind on my to do list and now I have to cram. Classic Emily. I’m going to be doubling up some weeks in order to get through my list on time and I’m okay with that because as far as I’m concerned, this project has been a raging success.

If you look at my original to do list here, you will see all of the items I still need to complete in bold.

The list below is my plan for the duration of the project and you’ll see makeup assignments listed in italics. Things I could use outside help with are highlighted in an irritating shade of lime green so you know just how much I need your help.

Stick with me guys, I got this!

Week 27 – April 11 – 17 – Stop interrupting. Sometimes I can’t stop myself.

Week 28 – April 18 – 24 – Stop saying I’m sorry for no reason.

Makeup work: 

Week 20 – Cook more from my vast collection of cookbooks.  Try a meal kit delivery service because ain’t nobody got time for that.

Week 27 – Stop interrupting. Sometimes I can’t stop myself.

Week 29 – April 25 – May 1 – Go for a walk on the beach by myself.

Week 30 – May 2 – 8 – Don’t spend any money on non-essentials for an entire month. Stick to my budget.

Makeup Work: Week 22 – Go TV & non-essential phone use free for 1 week.

Week 31 – May 9 – 15 – FREEBIE

Makeup Work: Week 23 – Try meditation. At least once a day for a week. See what happens.

Week 32 – May 16 – 22 – Start a babysitting swap. Because babysitters cost a lot of dollars. Anyone? Anyone want to do this?

Week 33 – May 23 – 29 – Learn Snapchat.

Makeup Work: Week 11 – Don’t complain about anything for an entire week.

Week 34 – May 30 – June 5 – Join a book club. Who wants me? Any takers in San Diego County?

Week 35 – June 6 – 12 – Do a mud run. Planning to do the Marine Corps Mud Run at Camp Pendleton. WHO IS COMING WITH ME?!

Makeup Work: Week 21 – Make plans more often with my girlfriends. Find a mentor. Anyone know any female bloggers, writers, or entrepreneurs that they want to connect 

Week 36 – June 13 – 19 – Try stand-up paddle boarding.

Makeup Work: Week 5 – Put down the remote and read a book already!

Week 37 – June 20 – 26 – Run a 5K at a 9 minute mile pace.

Week 38 – June 27 – July 3 – Start the Six Pack of Peaks Challenge.

Week 39 – July 4 – 10 – Teach Little C to swim.

Week 40 – July 11 – 17 – Create a community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Week 13 – Strong not skinny

Strong not skinny has been my motto for a while now. You may have noticed that I made it my focus for a week during November as an attempt to reboot my eating habits and ramp up my fitness level. You may have also noticed that I used it as my focus for the first week of the new year for the very same reasons. You probably also noticed that I spent the entire month of December working out. I literally stopped only once to wrap some presents and chug a carton of eggnog. If you didn’t notice then I’m going to assume you swore off social media because I was pretty much fitness spamming everyone.

I’m a little late in getting this post up because it’s a complicated topic to write about. Primarily because there’s the way I want to feel about my body and the way I actually feel. And it changes all the time. It’s a very fluid situation with a lot of mixed emotions. I don’t think there’s a single woman reading this that doesn’t already know exactly what I’m talking about even though I haven’t gotten specific. Probably some men too. I can’t comment on how men feel about this because I’ve never been one. But I can tell you how I feel and what I’m learning in my quest for strong not skinny.

What I know

It’s really, really hard to be a woman and feel good about the way you look. From birth until death we are inundated with images of one kind of beautiful woman. We all know what a beautiful woman is supposed to look like because we see her all over the damn place.

She’s tall, but not too tall because she needs to be smaller than a man or else she’s not feminine.

She’s thin. For a while it was best to have protruding bones and appear perpetually hungry, but now that is gross, so she should be curvy but only in the places that are acceptable like her boobs and butt, and she should definitely not have cellulite.

She’s white. If she isn’t white, she should have similar features to a white woman and her skin shouldn’t be too dark.

She’s feminine and sexy and she’s definitely not assertive, funny, loud, or flawed.

She doesn’t exist.

Let’s take that enormous pile of Photoshopped images of non-existent women that we see every day and add to it the fact that women in TV and movies are disparately young. Let’s also add that it’s not uncommon to have a gray haired actor or middle-aged dad bod playing opposite a thin, twenty-something actress and we get the message loud and clear.

The message is that women are only good when they’re young, pretty, thin and in a supporting role. Ladies, once you hit 30 and put on a few extra pounds and wrinkles, please DISAPPEAR.

That’s why this is so complicated for me. It’s not just about how I feel about the way I look. It’s the insidious reasons why I am so conflicted about the way I look. It takes a whole lot of deprogramming to undo the messaging we are bombarded with from childhood. I’m an intelligent, adult woman who understands that what we’ve been sold is a seventeen ton mountain of bullshit and I still struggle with body image. It’s that pervasive in our culture and in our lives. Knowing is really only just the beginning of the battle.

Let’s zoom in from this big picture of real deal insanity to just one woman. Me. I was always fit and thin-ish growing up. I played sports year round and I ate Twinkies every damn day and I never thought much about losing weight as a teenager. I did criticize every single inch of my body as teenage girls nearly all women are prone to do. As I got older and less active, my weight crept up, little by little. Then came the pregnancies. And a surgery that left a a vertical scar on my belly from bra to bikini bottoms. Whatever chance I had of looking like “her”, that idealized, phony image of beauty that we all measure ourselves against, was gone. But let’s be honest, it was never a possibility to begin with. BECAUSE SHE DOESN’T EVEN EXIST!!!!

Sure, you may know someone that looks a lot like her, but that someone has their own struggles and issues and self-loathing. Having a body that is like “her” is not a cure all. You still have to like yourself and be grateful for the body you have.

For the past year and a half, I’ve slowly clawed my way out of rock bottom fitness and peak non-pregnancy weight. I spent a lot of time pretending not to care about my weight and thinking I was pretty damn accepting of my body. It turns out when you don’t take care of yourself and you aren’t making an effort, you don’t have much choice but to accept things. When you are working your ass off and struggling and not always seeing results, it’s a lot harder to be accepting and loving to yourself. I’ve lost weight and gained it back and then lost it again. I’ve tried all different kinds of workouts to find my groove. And I did it all in the name of being strong and healthy and being able to keep up with my kid. I told myself and everyone else that I wanted to feel better and I wanted my clothes to fit better, but deep down, I also really, really, really wanted to look like “her”. AND SHE DOESN’T EVEN EXIST! It’s madness really.

Even though I worked out every single day in December, I still gained 5 pounds. Because I ate everything. I literally said no to nothing. I had the exercise thing pretty down pat but my eating habits needed a major overhaul. And a realistic one at that. I couldn’t do something short term or quick fix. It had to be something that would work forever. Just the way I’ve incorporated exercise into my life.

What I’m doing now

Everyone has their own weaknesses when it comes to food. Mine, in no particular order, are junk food (processed food, fast food, anything with 30 ingredients I can’t pronounce that is really crunchy), booze (craft beer, good wine, cheap wine, dirty martinis, bourbon with one rock, margaritas…this is just the first page of the list), and sweetener (I like to add Splenda or Stevia to my cold brew). I also love cheese the most of anyone ever, but I refuse to put it on the bad list because I don’t believe it is. But I also love, love, love vegetables.

I decided that the best option for me was to cut out processed foods, mostly. Processed foods tend to have a lot of sugar and a bunch of stuff that isn’t what my body needs. I believe they are called empty calories. I figured if I started there, that would leave me with a lot healthier options. I also decided to stop adding sugar and sweetener to most things. And to lean toward lower calorie adult beverage options.

I’m only a few weeks in but I feel like this is really going to stick. I had two days of silently suffering and wishing for a box of crackers to crunch on but then the cravings passed. Also, I have no intention of being perfect with this endeavor. I’ve eaten out and ordered whatever the hell I wanted a few times. I’ve had a few double IPA’s in addition to my skinny cocktails. Because this is about finding a healthy solution that will work for my life. It’s a lot of planning and prep, but it’s getting easier and easier.

In 2 weeks, I’ve dropped 7 pounds and I feel really, really good. I’m also working out 5 days each week, which seems like a breeze after the 31 days 31 workouts challenge. While this is not a fitness blog, I’ll be posting details on Instagram and Facebook about what I’m eating that is awesome and some of the workouts I’m loving. If you have stuff you love to eat and workouts you love, please share them with me. I’m always looking for new inspiration. I’ll continue working toward my fitness and weight loss goals with a focus on good health and strength and complete and total appreciation for my body, scars and all. It’s the only one I’ve got. Now excuse me while I go drink some tea and eat these cashew butter and quinoa bars I made and wonder what the hell is happening to me.

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Finished is better than perfect.

I’m a little behind right now on blog posts. And pretty much life in general. I’ve sat down a few times this week to write an update on kicking off the 52 Hike Challenge and then I remember I also need to write about my new focus on being #strongnotskinny. And then I remember I haven’t written a proper update on my #31days31workouts challenge. And then I curl up in the fetal position to cry and have trouble getting into the fetal position and I realize I didn’t write a proper recap of my yoga endeavor. And then I wish I hadn’t already watched the Gilmore Girls reboot on Netflix because I would rather be in Stars Hollow than at my desk.

I don’t have a time machine to go back and write those posts when I was supposed to write them and I don’t have a secret stash of extra hours hidden in my closest. If I did, you can bet I would use them to catch up on sleep or watch all five seasons of The Wire for a third time and not for writing these posts.

But who cares if this isn’t perfect? I’m not striving for perfection, I’m striving to finish, and last time I checked, I’m doing that damn thing. So I’m going to flip this post on its head and do something I didn’t plan. It’s a brand new year and I’m one third of the way through this 40-week project and I’m going to do the blog equivalent of a sitcom clip show and recap where I’ve been and what’s next. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves how far we’ve come so we can see the progress we’ve made and say to ourselves “Wow. You’re kind of amazing!”

Without further ado, cue the wavy screen effects and let’s jump back in time, shall we?

The First Trimester

The first trimester of my 40-week gestation of an adult me began with…

Week 1 – October 11 – 17 – Start a blog. Because writing gives me perspective.

I’d been saying I was going to start a blog for a looooooong time. I still remember the sick feeling I had in my stomach when I posted the link to my blog on Facebook and invited friends to like it.

All I could think was “What am I doing? No one will read this! This is stupid. I’m stupid.” Then I slapped myself and said “You’re amazing and this is a good idea. Now get your shit together and let’s do this.” 

Week 2 – October 18 – 24 – Run a 10k.

 

 

This week gifted me one of my favorite pictures of myself ever.

 

 

 

 

 

Week 3 – October 25 – 31 – Learn to cook treasured family recipes. And share them with my family.

lemon meringue pie

 

 

This week I learned a lot of stuff about my mom through making pie. I also learned that pie is really hard and I’m cool just having a cheese plate for dessert. But mostly, there were some really beautiful life lessons.

 

 

Week 4 – November 1 – 7 – Put down the remote and read a book already!

 

This week turned into ‘Put down my phone. I’m way too attached. It’s a problem.‘ because it needed to. You can read my original post about my issues with being phone addicted here. If you’re wondering how I’m doing, I will tell you. I’m doing better. A little better. I am not on the phone as much as I used to be and I’m much more present for my husband and kiddo. But I did start browsing on it at night before bed. Oof. Just writing this down makes me want to recommit to the no bed phone use again. But progress!

 

 

Week 5 – November 8 – 14 – FREEBIE.

This week ended up being the previous week’s displaced ‘Put down the remote and read a book already!‘ I read MOST OF Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. It’s a fantastic book and I still haven’t finished it. I completely blame the election, which I haven’t spoken of since this post. I really can’t even give it too much energy because I’m still shocked that we, and by we I mean Russia, elected a president that cares so little for actual information and facts and truth and so much for retaliatory tweets and bullying. I can’t even muster a joke about it.

Week 6 – November 15 – 21 – Cook more from my vast collection of cookbooks.

This week turned out to be ‘Lose another 20 pounds. Stop driving myself crazy and change my focus to being healthy and strong over being skinny.‘ I needed to refocus my energy on this with the holidays coming. As an aside, I have been cooking a ton from my cookbooks since I started this blog, I  just haven’t taken the time to photograph anything.

Week 7 – November 22 – 28 – Camp in the winter.

 

This week brought a Thanksgiving camping trip and some early morning snuggle time in the tent. It also brought on an accidental 10 mile hike with a 3 year old, but man, the views were worth it!

 

 

 

 

Week 8 – November 29 – December 5 – Share our Christmas stocking tradition.

 

The most rewarding thing to check off my list so far. After this post, I had a really beautiful, overwhelming response to Charlie’s stocking. I mentioned having the beginnings of an idea to grow the tradition in this post and I will be sharing it with you in the near future!

 

 

 

Week 9 – December 6 – 12 – Try yoga. I’ve been told I have the flexibility of an 80 year old woman.

I started the 31 days 31 workouts challenge this month and I thought this would be a good time to try yoga. I made a commitment to go to one class each week for the entire month. The outcome? I feel slightly better about yoga than I did when I started the challenge. Actually, what’s a little more than slightly? A smidge? A hair? It’s still more than that, but it’s not a lot better. Yoga is really uncomfortable. You’re basically supposed to hold really awkward positions that start to hurt and you’re supposed to focus on your breathing instead of the fact that your foot is totally cramping and you might fall over and fart at the same time. Despite all this, I ALWAYS left class feeling peaceful and restored. There was just that middle part when I was stabby and hateful. Basically, I might do it again, but I just don’t know if I’m a yoga person.

In this post about yoga, I mentioned that tea is not my cup of tea. (Tee hee…tea hee!!) Some of you let me know that you VERY STRONGLY DISAGREE. Well, for all you teabaggers out there (tea hee), you will be happy to know that I may have converted. My sister-in-law, who either doesn’t read my blog or does and hates me, sent me this really pretty ceramic tea cup with an infuser. She also sent some loose White Chocolate Peppermint Rooibos Tea from Teavana that smelled like angel kisses and baby snuggles. I decided to give it a try and it’s replaced my morning cold brew four out of the last seven days. I’m actually going to buy more tea today and try out different flavors. What is happening to me? Is it because I did yoga? Why am I enjoying tea? Am I going to start drinking scotch next?!

Week 10 – December 13 – 19 – Put down my phone. I’m way too attached. It’s a problem.

Since I already worked on the phone issue with moderate success and I’ve shuffled around a bunch of weeks, I took a FREEBIE here. I decided to make this week about creating Christmas memories with my family. In theory, it was a lovely idea. The one thing I didn’t factor in was that my family includes a three year old that recently yelled at me for cooking bacon too loud. In the end, our Christmas memories included a lot of watching videos of people building Legos but even more great times with family, friends and ugly sweaters.

 

Week 11 – December 20 – 26 – Don’t complain about anything for an entire week.

I was too busy to complain and too busy to remember not to complain. I have no idea what happened.

Week 12 – December 27 – January 2 – Start the 52 Hike Challenge.

This week I totally rocked. I finished 31 straight days of working out for my #31days31workouts challenge on the last day of 2016 with my first hike of the 52 Hike Challenge. I followed that up the next day by kicking off 2017 with my second hike of 52. If you couldn’t tell, I like a challenge because it gives me a goal to work toward and makes me accountable. I never in a million years thought I’d be one of those annoying people who posts about their workouts on social media, but it works for me and so I do it.

I first did the 31 day challenge last year, December 2015, at a point when I really needed it. About 4 months earlier I had started to get physically active again after a period of health issues and difficult pregnancies that left me unable to exercise. I had weight to lose and I had a lot of work to do to get my fitness back. Around December, my commitment was starting to waver and my weight loss had plateaued and I was in danger of losing the ground that I had gained.

My dear friend invited me to the do the challenge with her and it terrified me. I knew in my gut that I needed to do it. I knew it would keep me on track. I agreed but I didn’t think I’d be able to finish it. The first week felt like I had been working out every day for a year and that it would never end. I got a really bad cold and still muscled my way through. It was all so public that I didn’t want to give up. I couldn’t fail. And I didn’t!

It changed me in a way that I can’t totally explain. It made me realize that I was capable of things I didn’t even know that I was capable of yet. It made me realize that I could not make excuses anymore. I may not always finish everything I start but I own when I choose to give up. That challenge helped give birth to 40 Reasons because it made me know that I could do anything I wanted to do as long as I made the choice to do it.

That challenge led to another one in the summer and then another one to close out 2016. It has grown to include more of my friends and acquaintances and a lot of people I wouldn’t know until they jumped in on the challenge. I have been so inspired watching everyone that participated.

There’s the friend from college that doesn’t work out on Sundays for religious reasons so she made up the missed workouts by doubling up on several days.

There’s the friend that despite holidays, very cold weather, and a trip to Mexico, showed up every day to do a challenging workout and even got her family involved.

There’s the friend who emailed me quietly to tell me that she wasn’t posting on social media but 10 of her friends were doing the challenge together and holding each other accountable.

And there are the people that started the challenge and didn’t finish or didn’t workout every day but still tried it and that is a badass thing to attempt in December. Literally the busiest month of the year. You guys all rock and I can’t wait to see what challenges you take on next.

Week 13 – January 3 – 9 – Lose another 20 pounds. Stop driving myself crazy and change my focus to being healthy and strong over being skinny.

I’ve kicked this off with a whole lot of food prep and an ongoing commitment to fitness. Stay tuned for the next post to learn what I’m doing, how I’m doing it, and how much I already want to give up but won’t.

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Week 6 – Plans, then reality, then new plans

This past week really knocked me on my ass in terms of focus and progress. If you read my post about election grief, you know I was thrown for a massive loop, along with millions of other Americans. A lot of the stuff I’ve been doing really well just fell apart. Let me catalog my missteps.

Plans: Finish the invaluable book Daring Greatly and write a post about it.

Reality: Read a few chapters one night and then cast it aside to immerse myself in bitter social media discussion and analysis of the election and speculation about the future of our nation. ON MY PHONE. While ignoring everything else.

New Plan: Read a little bit every day and write a follow up post by November 22nd. It is a fantastic and eye-opening book that I think I am avoiding because sometimes it’s hard to hold a mirror up to myself. It also feels hard to figure out how to fix the things I see that I don’t like. But it’s a much better use of my time than reading another Facebook post where one side is criticizing the other for being whiney sore losers and one side is criticizing the other for being racist. ‘MERICA!

Plans: Keep the phone out of my bedroom and leave it in the kitchen unless I’m using it.

Reality: Use my state of shock and crippling fear of uncertainty as an excuse to consume even more information about the source of my shock and fear. Now more than ever, I need to stick to the rules.

New Plan: Renew my commitment to my phone use rules and recognize that they are the best thing for my mental health.

Plans: Renew my commitment to exercise and healthy eating. Side note: my weight is creeping up…I haven’t weighed myself but I can feel it. It’s something I have a sixth sense about. And the sixth sense is actually the button on my jeans that is digging into me. Also my desire to be in sweatpants has shot through the roof.

Reality: Put on sweatpants. Make homemade mac n’cheese. Eat two bowls. Cry quietly. Eat ice cream.

New Plan: Arrange for husband to handle daycare drop off two days each week so I can get in an early morning workout. The combination of getting it done early and having someone rearrange their schedule for me are powerful motivators. Create a meal plan for the week that does not include mac n’cheese and ice cream seasoned with tears.

Here’s the deal, if I didn’t have 40 Reasons and you guys reading this, I would probably do my best to ignore my missteps and just ride a turkey leg, a pound of fudge, and a bottle of peppermint schnapps all the way through the holiday season. I’d wake up in 2017 ten pounds heavier and hungover and wishing I had done something a month ago. So the way I see it, I’m ahead of the game because I still have 6 weeks left until 2017. Go me!

So how do I want to start the new year? Fat and sad? Exhausted and broke from overspending on Christmas? HELL NO! I want to ride into 2017 on a wave of momentum built from doing things instead of making excuses. I want to create one of those cartoon runaway snowballs that knocks down a fence and a swing set and crashes right into someone’s living room. I want to be the Kool-Aid man crashing through a brick wall! WHAT’S UP 2017!!!!

However I arrive in the new year, (please don’t be on a turkey leg, please don’t be on a turkey leg) one off week will certainly not determine how I handle the other 39. This week wasn’t a total wash. I made a conscious decision to post positive things on 40 Reasons social media pages and it gave me, and hopefully some of you, warm fuzzies. I plan to continue that through the rest of the month. So as week 5 comes to a close and I get ready for week 6, I’m going to close with this quote from the man in black.

“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” – Johnny Cash

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Month 1 Progress Report

progress report
I’m one month into this project and it’s time for a little self-evaluation. A progress report of sorts. First, let’s take a look at what I’ve completed that was on my list.

Start a blog. Because writing gives me perspective.

Boom. Done.

Run a 10K.

Check.

Learn to cook treasured family recipes. And share them with my family.

Lemon meringue pie, laughter, and tears. Check.

Put down my phone. I’m way too attached. It’s a problem. 

If you read my post last week, you know that I had to move this one up the list. It turns out a lot of you guys also struggle with phone distraction and it was encouraging to feel the “we can do this together!” vibe in the comments. I’ve made some strides this week, but I haven’t been perfect. I’ve successfully cut the phone out of my bed time and morning routine and it has made a world of difference! I am getting a lot done in the morning and I’m sleeping better. I’ve also done a mostly good job of keeping my phone in the kitchen, especially when my dudes are home. The exception to this was Sunday. The boys were gone at the park and I was lazy and tired and I spent A LOT of time mindlessly trolling the interweb. But I am typically lazy on Sundays so I didn’t feel bad. But then the boys got home and we were watching football and I didn’t put my phone in the kitchen and I could not stop picking it up. I finally realized what I was doing and put it away. It’s a process…I’m getting there.

Now let’s talk about what else is happening. 

I was looking at my list yesterday and realized that even though I’m working on the fifth item on my list of 40…I’ve actually begun work on so many more. I’m a big believer in putting out there what you want because it makes it real and it attracts attention and it gets your attention and then it becomes an actual thing. It’s like the simple act of writing it down and sharing it has brought it to the front of my mind. I’m more aware of these things and why they’re important to me so I’m more likely to take action. I’m seeing spaces where I can find time for things that are important to me and I’m seeing pathways that either weren’t there before or, more likely, I never noticed.

You can see from my list that there are a lot of things I want to do and change. Here’s what else I’m starting to work on from the list.

Read a book already. How much Netflix can one person watch?

I’m reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown this week. I literally had to put it on my calendar chapter by chapter because if it’s not on a list and scheduled, it does not exist to me. It’s the perfect homework for me for this project. In the introduction, there is a paragraph that talks about the practice of framing parents as good mothers and fathers and as bad ones. Brown says that the real question should be “Are you engaged? Are you paying attention” and this is what I needed to hear. Which brings me to…

Be present and engaged with Little C. I’m going to need some rules for this one.

I think reducing my phone distraction by default makes me more present and engaged with Little C. But I know I want to move this up the priority list as well. I feel like I spend so much time trying to distract him while I try to get things done and then there is the guilt about not spending quality time with him along with the frustration of not getting things done and feeling overwhelmed by life. The times that I’ve been able to stop and say to myself “Give him your attention now. This is more important than your to do list.” have been rewarding in so many ways. I get to enjoy time with the sweetest 3-year-old boy on the planet. He feels loved and valued. We both have a lot of fun. As a result, I don’t feel guilty doing chores and saying no to playing Legos and he is content to play without me for a while. But I’m not gonna lie…being present and self-aware is not my default state. My default state is looking at memes on Facebook and not thinking about anything. There is still work to do.

Stop interrupting. Sometimes I can’t stop myself.

I’ve been way more conscious of this lately. I have been thinking about listening and really hearing what someone is saying instead of just waiting (or not) for my turn to talk.

Lose another 20 pounds. Stop driving myself crazy and change my focus to being healthy and strong over being skinny.

You may recall from my post a few weeks ago that I’m really trying to focus on health and strength over skinny. I had a good week of working out and mostly eating well and then HALLOWEEN. And then life. I stand by my statement that goals without joy are not good goals, but I may need to redefine my goals. I am a creature of planning and planning requires rules. Rules like “don’t eat all the candy” or “do you really need another bowl of pasta?” or “why did you even make pasta in the first place?”. Wait, I don’t think those are rules so much as me shaming myself. So I’m clearly still driving myself crazy, but I’m not giving up. Or giving in. I am going to be healthy and strong and NOT crazy, DAMN IT! I originally had this on the schedule for week 13 which is in January. Yeah, no. It’s getting moved up to next week because I want to give it some attention. But first, let me eat the rest of those mini Snickers I hid from my kid.

Make plans more often with my girlfriends.

I’ve got happy hour dates, comedy show dates, and even workout dates planned. Yesssss.

Date my husband.

If you follow 40 Reasons on Facebook or Instagram, you may have seen my post about being gifted a 4-hour window of childcare recently. Our weekend was crazy busy in a good way with visits from old friends, family pictures, and the usual weekend chore list. We were so close to using our child-free time to do laundry, clean house, etc. We opted for a 2-hour hike followed by cold beer and snacks and it was absolutely the best choice. Being able to talk about things that aren’t “where did you put that?” and “did you do that yet?” was awesome and much needed. And the laundry still got done.

Create a community.

The 40 Reasons community may be in its infancy but I love hearing from you. I love that there are other women and men that want some of the same things I do and are encouraging each other to get after it. I’ve got some things coming up that I want to connect with you guys on and I can’t wait. Stay tuned!

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Pie is hard and other life lessons

lemon meringue pie

I think I like the idea of pie more than I actually like pie. I’m coming to terms with this after making my first lemon meringue pie under the expert tutelage of my mom. The pie turned out picture perfect. It tasted great. I had a ball with my mom. She told me some great stories. And I learned some valuable tricks of the pie-making trade. But I think I like the idea of pie more than I actually like pie.

Pie is hard. Or at least it’s hard for me. I can never quite get the crust right. The dough crumbles. I can’t keep it cold enough. It tears and falls apart when I’m trying to transfer it to the pie plate. And then I stomp my feet and skulk around like I’m 10. It just feels like a lot of work for a dessert that doesn’t have frosting. Despite my mixed emotions about pie, I did learn some valuable lessons.

Lesson # 1

I like the idea of pie because I see how much people love receiving a pie from my mom. She bakes them for birthdays and special occasions and people seriously LOVE them. You know you’re in with Linda if she makes a pie for you. You know you’re really in with Linda if you feel comfortable requesting a specific pie. Coconut cream? No problem. Lemon meringue? Easy peasy! Apple? Berry? You got it. I want to be able to gift someone a pie that I actually enjoyed making.

Lesson # 2

If I could get the crust down, I think I would enjoy making pie and that means I need to practice. My mom makes her pie with a recipe that calls for shortening from an ancient Good Housekeeping cookbook and she skips the step of chilling the dough because it’s what works for her. And her crust is fantastic. It did not work for me. I think I need to find my own go-to pie crust recipe that is made with butter because BUTTER. Or try her recipe using butter.

Lesson # 3

I never knew how my mom made her crust’s crimped edges so uniform or how she got those perfect peaks in her meringue. I do now and I’ve added them to her recipe. You’re welcome.

Lesson #4

My mom is a badass hiding in a grandmother’s body. She has lived through some stuff that could really wreck a person. Or at least make them angry and bitter and hard. Not my mom. She’s all snuggles and cinnamon. She’s seriously the mommest mom I know and man am I lucky. I have way too many friends and family (including my own mother) that lost their moms either as children or in early adulthood before they truly had a chance to know them as grown women. Or appreciate them for all the sacrifices they made as moms. Or learn their cherished recipes or hear their stories from way back when before they were moms. Again, I am so, so very lucky. More on this in a minute.

Lesson #5

Pie dough scraps are a treat in their own right. Once we had the pie shell in the oven baking, my mom turned to me and said “Ya know what I do? I roll out the dough scraps and sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar and then roll it into a log. I slice it into little pinwheels and bake them for a few minutes. And then I sit and eat them all by myself.”

Everything about that makes me happy. Imagining my mom rolling out pie dough then cleaning her kitchen and then sitting down to quietly savor her cinnamon sugar treat just brings a smile to my face. Linda does it right.

Lesson #6

Cooking together is a great way to learn more about a person. I asked my mom who taught her to make pie and she thought about it for a moment and said “Leona. That’s really the only fond memory I have of her. She used to make beautiful pies and her French Silk was my favorite. I have a love of pies because of her.”

Leona was my mom’s stepmother and, from what I’ve heard, it sounds like she played the classic storybook villain stepmother role well. I learned a lot about my mom and her childhood from this exercise in pie-making. I also learned about her ability to find a silver-lining on a very dark cloud. It made me realize that all the people in our lives, good and bad, give us gifts. We just have to find them. My mom makes pies that make people feel loved and celebrated and special because of someone who made her feel none of those things. That’s pretty damn remarkable.

Get the Lemon Meringue Pie recipe complete with hot tips from Linda here.

 

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Lemon Meringue Pie

lemon meringue pie

This is my mom’s lemon meringue pie recipe adapted from a couple of cookbooks that I don’t even think are in print anymore. It is fantastic. Make sure you look for “hot tips from Linda” because she has some really simple tricks for creating a beautiful pie.

Lemon Meringue Pie
Adapted from an ancient Good Housekeeping cookbook

1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Dash salt
1 1/2 cups hot water
. . . .
4 slightly beaten egg yolks
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 9-inch baked pastry shell, cooled*
Meringue (4 egg whites)*

In saucepan, mix the sugar, cornstarch, flour, and salt. Gradually add hot water, stirring constantly. Cook and stir over high til mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat, cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat.

Stir small amount hot mixture into egg yolks, then return to hot mixture. Bring to boiling and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add butter and lemon zest. Slowly add lemon juice, mixing well. Pour into pastry shell. Spread meringue over filling; seal to edge. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. Cool before cutting.

*Flaky Pastry Crust (for 1 baked pie shell)
Adapted from an ancient Better Homes & Gardens cookbook

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sifted all-purpose flour.
1/2 teaspoon of salt
7 tablespoons shortening
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon water

In bowl, mix flour and salt. With pastry blender or two knives, scissor-fashion, cut two thirds of the shortening into flour until like corn meal – for tenderness. Cut in rest of shortening until like large peas – for flakiness.

Sprinkle water, a half tablespoon at a time, over different parts of the mixtures, tossing quickly with fork until particles stick together, when pressed gently, and for a dough that clings to fork. (Use only enough water to make flour particles cling together – dough should not be wet or slippery.)

With cupped hands, lightly form dough into smooth ball. (If very warm day, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate up to a half hour.)

Hot tip from Linda: Place the dough in a large piece of plastic wrap and twist it up tightly to form a smoother ball. Throw it on the counter a few times just because it’s fun and then giggle uncontrollably when asked if this is a necessary step.

On a lightly floured surface, place the ball of pastry. With a rolling pin, flatten gently, adding more flour as needed to keep from sticking. Roll lightly from center out to edge, in all directions, forming a circle about 2 inches wider than the inverted 9″ pie plate.

Be sure to lift rolling pin near edge of circle, to keep edge from splitting or getting thin. If edge splits, punch cracks together. If pastry sticks, loosen gently with spatula; then lift and lightly flour surface.

Fold pastry circle in half; lift onto ungreased pie plate, with fold at center; unfold. Do this with with four hands and a lot of swearing to keep it from ripping. Gently press on the pastry to fit it into the plate. Trim pastry about 1″ beyond edge of plate. Finish the pastry edge by pressing the dough with an index finger on one hand in between your thumb and index finger on the opposite hand, as demonstrated by the Hot Tip from Linda image below.

pie-crimping

Prick the dough with a fork on the bottom of the pan. Bake at 450 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden. Peek after 5 minutes; if bubbles appear, prick once again with a fork. Cool before filling.

*Meringue
4 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
6 tablespoons sugar

Beat egg whites with vanilla and cream of tartar till soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating till stiff and glossy peaks form and all sugar is dissolved. Spread meringue over hot filling, sealing to edge of pastry.

Hot tip from Linda: Once you’ve smoothed out the meringue with a spatula, take your spatula and tap the flat side in spots all over the meringue. As you pull the spatula away a little peak will form and you’ll have gorgeous peaks all over a smooth meringue.

Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or till meringue is golden. Cool before serving.

 

 

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Week 3 – Cook Treasured Family Recipes

family recipes and memories

It’s officially week 3 of this what-was-I-thinking-40-week project and I’ve already learned a few things. First, tidily cataloging each thing I want to do or achieve in a one-week time frame is not realistic. I’m driven by an intense need to put everything in a proper place, neatly label it, then schedule it to the minute. I have written to-do lists for myself that start with items like “wake up” and “shower” like I could somehow forget to do them. On second thought, it’s probably good that shower is on there. I like being able to cross things off a list. The satisfaction I derive from physically drawing a line through the completed task may not be totally healthy. I’m not sure why I need things to be so specifically the way I want them.

[Control by Janet Jackson blares in the background]

What I’m realizing is that I probably won’t be doing just one thing each week. The goal of this project is to be truly engaged with my own life and life isn’t neat and labeled or prone to being compartmentalized. It is messy and chaotic and we have very little control over how and when things happen.

[Controllll! Shoulder shimmy.]

So while this post focuses on week 3’s objective of learning how to cook treasured family recipes, I’ll also be posting this week about other stuff that I’ve opened up to and made room for as a result of this project. And in the immortal words of the great Miss Jackson…

Control – To get what I want!
Control – I’m never gonna stop!
Control – Now I’m all grown up!
Control – Let’s all make a list!

Just kidding. That last one was mine.

 

Why it’s on my list
The act of cooking and sharing a meal with family and friends is nurturing. It is loving. It is true generosity of spirit. It brings people together, gives them time to pause and enjoy the food that was prepared for them or that they prepared together. It is the architect of good conversation. It is the centerpiece of some of our fondest memories. Also, food is yummy.

What I want from it
As a family we cook almost every night. We experiment a lot with different foods and recipes and love to try new things. On holidays I always prepare family recipes that are my personal definition of the day itself, that without them, would not feel like Thanksgiving or Christmas. But there are other recipes that were ever present in my childhood that I have never made and I am afraid they will fade into distant memories. I want them to have a place at our table so that when my kiddo is grown, he will remember that his mom made lemon meringue pie for special dinner guests and that really, really good potato salad for summer picnics. He will remember when I baked him icebox cookies and told him how every one of my visits to Grandma Johnson’s house began with her taking a log of walnut-flecked cookie dough from the freezer and slicing it in circles. Before we knew it the circles were on a cookie sheet in a warm oven and, minutes later, in our bellies. I want him to know his family and his ancestors through their recipes. I want us to create food traditions that give him a sense of the loving home he came from long after he has moved out of it. They say you can never go home again but I think food is the time machine that can take you there, even if only for a moment.

I’m not crying, you’re crying!

Stay tuned for my mom’s Lemon Meringue Pie recipe…it’s the prettiest pie in the world. Which now that I’ve said that means mine will turn out looking like a burnt marshmallow.

What’s up next

Week 4 – Put down the remote and read a book already! I’ve already started Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly and I find myself nodding yes, yes, mmm-hmm, yes.

Week 5 – FREEBIE. So many ideas and I’m going to make decision later this week. Post coming soon!

Week 6 – Cook more from my vast collection of cookbooks. I’m already excited to choose a few recipes! Do you have any cookbooks that are beckoning to you?

 

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